The security forces and the NSCN (IM) are locked in a standoff at Sihai Khunou/Khamasom in Ukhrul district of Manipur since April 25 over location of a camp of the outfit in the area.
While the army on Monday alleged the NSCN (IM) has set up an “unauthorised camp” in the area in gross violation of ceasefire ground rules, the NSCN (IM) says the ceasefire ground rules apply wherever the outfit is settled.
Briefing mediapersons on the prevailing situation in the area at the NSCN (IM) Cease Fire Monitoring Cell office at Diphupar here on Monday afternoon, NSCN (IM)’s in charge of the Cease Fire Monitoring Committee, Southern region, Standhope Varah, said the inspector general of Assam Rifles (South) was not in agreement on this.
He said the misinterpretation of the ceasefire ground rules was the main bone of contention that has led to the worsening situation in the area.
The NSCN (IM) leader said they are concerned about the lives of the innocent villagers and accused the Assam Rifles of disturbing the “collective peace process”.
Varah informed that civil society organisations and volunteers from neighbouring villages in the area led by frontal organisations will hold a march to Sihai village on April 30 to pacify the volatile situation.
Defence PRO C Konwer in a statement said troops were deployed to verify the existence of the camp after some suspected temporary hutment type structures were observed in the forest in Sihai Khunou/Khamasom area during the routine aerial recce on April 25.
The troops confirmed existence of the “unauthorized camp” of the NSCN (IM) in that area, he said.
The commander of Assam Rifles sector requested the villagers and pastor of the village church to inform the NSCN (IM) cadres to vacate the camp immediately as it is unauthorized and set up in gross violation of existing ceasefire ground rules, it said.
He said the chairman of Cease Fire Monitoring Group (CFMG) Lt. Gen Shokin Chauhan was briefed about the prevailing situation and existence of the “unauthorised camp” of the NSCN (IM) in the area by Inspector General of Assam Rifles at around 6 pm on April 26.
The CFMG chairman at around 2.15 pm on April 27 confirmed that instructions have been issued by the group for immediate vacation of the NSCN (IM) camp. Accordingly, the Assam Rifles troops contacted the villagers to confirm the vacation of the camp.
It said aerial reconnaissance on April 27 morning revealed that the camp has not been vacated, adding the villagers, who were again sent towards the camp on Monday, met self-styled Lt. Col David Rambo of the NSCN (IM) who is said to be awaiting instructions from Hebron, the headquarters of the outfit.
Maintaining that the security forces have shown great restraint, the release said the inconvenience to the villagers is entirely due to the irresponsible actions by NSCN (IM) cadres.
Despite extreme restraint shown by the Assam Rifles troops, no action has been taken by the NSCN (IM) to vacate the unauthorised camp, the release said.
“This is a serious violation of Ceasefire Ground Rules by NSCN (IM),” it said.
In the meanwhile, the area has been reinforced by additional troops and the unauthorised camp is under constant surveillance by air and other means.
“The onus for further escalation rests with the NSCN(IM) hierarchy, if the unauthorised camp is not vacated immediately,” the army cautioned.